Saquarema something of a Brazilian flop for Hawaii surfers

The contest at Saquarema may not be over, but for our intents and purposes, it is. The QS 10,000 Quiksilver Pro Saquarema in Itauna, Brazil, got halfway through the fourth round on Saturday, but none of the nine Hawaii competitors remain in the field. Last man standing honors went to Maui’s Granger Larsen, who lost to Nathan Yeomans in the fourth round.

The result for Larsen will give him a nice bump in the Qualifying Series rankings with 3,700 points for an Equal Ninth finish. But it was, for the most part, an underwhelming week for the men. Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz was scheduled to participate but pulled out of the competition. Dusty Payne had plenty of momentum after a semifinal showing at Trestles two weeks ago and he was one of just three Hawaii surfers to even survive round one at Saquarema. But Payne was a third-round casualty, finishing behind Joan Duru and Cooper Chapman despite earning the highest single-wave score. The 2,200 points should move Payne to the outskirts of the top five on the QS rankings.

Freddy Patacchia Jr. reached the second round but couldn’t make it any further, losing to Tom Whitaker and Luke Davis.

I suppose our greatest rooting interest remaining would be Brazil’s Jesse Mendes, also sometimes known as Tatiana Weston-Webb’s boyfriend, or vice versa. Mendes has a tough task ahead of him when he takes on Jeremy Flores in the fourth round when action resumes. Alex Ribeiro, Noe Mar McGonagle, Yeomans and Champman are all into the quarterfinals with four more spots still to be filled.

So with Saquarema’s funky wave behind us, the Championship Tour resumes Monday for both the men and women at the Oi Rio Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Oi” is Portugese for “hi” and is also Brazil’s largest telecommunications company — or so says the Internet. When discussing this contest, I’ll do my best to avoid invoking any “oi vey” references.

But I make no promises.

The men’s draw opens with usual three-man heats and there are a few that stand out. Zietz has an interesting matchup against Jordy Smith and Keanu Asing. All three are capable of winning such a heat, but Smith has been a first-round monster so far this season. He’s three for three in opening heats, jumping straight to round three at every stop. But he did have to pull out of the Margaret River Pro with a knee and foot injury, so we’ll see how well he’s healed up.

While Seabass and Asing go against each other, Hawaii’s three other CT surfers begin in separate heats. John John Florence will face Wiggolly Dantas, who also had a disappointing showing at Saquarema after winning there last year, and C.J. Hobgood. Patacchia has to take on a pair of Brazilians on their home turf as he faces Gabriel Medina and Alejo Muniz. Payne has a very progressive matchup with Josh Kerr and Jadson Andre.

A trio of Aussies should put on a good show when Joel Parkinson, Matt Wilkinson and Owen Wright all paddle out together in the final heat of round one.

For the wahine, Kauai’s two competitors will face each other in the opening round. Malia Manuel, Weston-Webb and Nikki Van Dijk will battle it out in the final heat of round one to see who gets to jump to round three. Manuel has some good momentum after a semifinal appearance at Margaret River. Last year was a little bit of a slip up for Manuel in Rio. It was the only contest of the season’s first six in which she failed to reach the quarterfinals. She enters Rio in eighth place for the season.

Weston-Webb is one spot better in seventh and returns to the site of her first CT contest. Though she’s technically a rookie, Tati got her feet wet at the 2014 Rio Pro and made it to round four, losing there to Van Dijk. She reached the quarters at Margaret River and the semis on the Gold Coast, so it’s been a very strong rookie campaign thus far.

Points leader Carissa Moore, who has two firsts and one second through three events, gets going in round one against Dimity Stoyle and event wild card Luana Coutinho.

The contest opens Monday and the Barra de Tijuca site is seven hours ahead of Hawaiian Standard Time. Action can be seen live on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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